Longest Bradford League season for cellar-dwellers Windhill

Windhill wicket-keeper Jack Holland, second left, broke a wrist playing football

Windhill wicket-keeper Jack Holland, second left, broke a wrist playing football

First published in Sport

WINDHILL won five successive Bradford League championships from 1937-41 and were runners-up as recently as 1994 and 1995.

Now, however, they sit rock bottom of Division Two with 55 points – a whopping 50 points behind second-from-bottom Spen Victoria – and haven't even won a game.

The Busy Lane club threatened promotion in 2009, when they were only five points adrift of runners-up Bankfoot, but more generally they have been swilling around in the basement alongside Great Horton and Idle.

Nevertheless, few would have predicted Windhill's dramatic decline this season, and you feel for cricket secretary Ian Holdsworth when he says: "We just want this season to be over so we can start again."

So how have the JCT600 Bradford League's fourth oldest club – they joined in 1905 – found themselves in this predicament?

Holdsworth explained: "You take people at their word when you sign them that they are good players, but they haven't been good enough.

"We have also suffered with injuries to Jack Holland (broken wrist playing football) , my son Ryan, shoulder) and Ibrahim Mohammed (back) – nothing seems to go for you when you are at the bottom – while our overseas player Salman Ali likes to attack when batting but needs to play within himself more because he has the ability."

However, it hasn't been all bad news for Windhill. Holdsworth added: "Youngsters Joe Allatt and Tom Watson have done well, although Tom has gone back to the second team to rebuild his confidence."

"Plus we have one of the best grounds in the league. Other teams seem to like playing there anyway," added Holdsworth drily.

So how do Windhill plan to improve their playing affairs next season?

"We will be looking outside the league," said Holdsworth, "because inside the league some ordinary players want too much money."

Windhill continue their attempt to break their duck tomorrow at third-from-bottom Brighouse or at second-placed Saltaire on Sunday.

Undercliffe, the overwhelming favourites for promotion, are at fifth-placed Hartshead Moor tomorrow but host third-placed Keighley on Sunday in what could be a key encounter.

Second-placed Saltaire, who are 46 points behind Undercliffe compared to Keighley's 51, are at Great Horton (eighth) tomorrow.

Division One teams are only in action tomorrow, and leaders Cleckheaton make their first trip to top-flight newcomers New Farnley (seventh).

Hoping for a Cleck slip-up are second-placed Woodlands, who are 25 points adrift, and Pudsey St Lawrence, who are a further two points back.

Woodlands are at Pudsey Congs, who have climbed to ninth, while the Saints are at Lightcliffe (eighth).

Bottom club Yeadon are at fourth-placed Farsley, while Yeadon's two main relegation rivals, East Bierley and Morley, are at home to mid-table opposition, with Bierley meeting Bradford & Bingley and Morley facing Hanging Heaton.

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